That is partly why a blog “Why social business will be bigger than social marketing” by Anna Farmery at Engaging Brand caught my attention this week.
However, while I think Anna is spot on with the points she makes and the examples she gives, I cannot help feeling that there is a more fundamental issue here that we are all in danger of missing. And it is to do with the whole concept of ‘social business.’ After all, isn’t all business social?
Just think about it for a moment.
Any organisation exists to provide a service. Whether it is a ‘for-profit’ corporation, a public sector or NGO, or a charity, its ultimate purpose is to serve. It cannot survive if it doesn’t! It doesn’t make any difference whether it is serving a very small, clearly defined and closed community, a nation or a global market, it sustains its existence by meeting a need. This inevitably means it is making a contribution to society and so makes it social.
Then there is the fact that the interaction is ultimately human. There is an old sales cliché that “people buy from people.” This is a truism. But it has broader connotations and applies to all business. The essence of business is human interaction and that makes it social.
And that is not all. The law recognises this implication by assigning organisations a legal persona. This gives them the same rights and obligations that a human has.
On top of that an organisation is itself a collective of people. It requires any number of people to carry out its purpose. This also makes it a social activity.
So there you have it. All four of these factors mean that all business is social business. There is no getting away from it. Of course this is why a business has to focus on its people in order to optimise its performance and improve its results.
Unfortunately this is all too often neglected or forgotten. As Anna points out, things are changing and the recognition of social business is certainly a step in the right direction. But perhaps like me you can sense that this is still too narrow a concept. In order to align all four social attributes you have to create a social culture. And in order to do that you must put a greater emphasis on the internal social structure. To put it more succinctly, this means you must put a greater emphasis on your people and how they work together.
That is why I persist in promoting the concept of a universal employee stake in the organisation. It will certainly bring all these four elements together in a way nothing else can. And I don’t know about you, but I cannot think of a better way to align the organisational objectives with those of the employees than employee ownership. Can you? So what are you waiting for?